Jul 23, 2012 Web Exclusive
For any film buff, the title of Laetitia Sadier's second solo LP since Stereolab went on indefinite hiatus may hold an immediate connotation of the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive. More specifically, Club Silencio, the dank cabaret club where a mysterious figure urges to the protagonists, "There is no band," although an act is playing a gorgeous version of Roy Orbison's "Crying" sung in Spanish in plain sight. The scene brilliantly probes incorporeal dimensions beyond human comprehension, and Sadier elliptically extrapolates from this sentiment throughout the excellent Silencio, calling into question the smoke and mirrors game vis-à-vis the IMF, hedge fund wizards, the Arab Spring revolution, and Marxism—essentially the issues she's obsessed over since the inception of Stereolab.
She's at her most overt on "Auscultation to the Nation." The track bounces along with an ebullience and visceral kick redolent of Stereolab's classic 1993 number "Ping Pong," belying a vitriolic excoriation of the aforementioned agencies. Sadier questions acerbically, "But who are these people? And why on the earth do we care about their opinion?"—a sly reference to the recent Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court case, ostensibly giving corporations the same rights as individuals. Yet it concludes on a decidedly optimistic note, as she keens at the coda, "We want a real democracy, a democracy," before the track fades into a wash of feedback and static.
Sadier is once again didactic on the slow-burning sway of "There is a Price to Pay for Freedom (and it isn't Security)." It could easily be rendered downright hackneyed in less capable hands, but when she longingly coos "The roles to take on/Reality, what I am," she engenders a certain vulnerability and sense of confusion only a songwriter in her rarefied echelon could.
Silencio doesn't deign to have the answers to society's sundry ills. Sadier seems to realize that one voice isn't enough, and that a collective effort is ultimately the only solution. Yet, like Jack Nicholson's character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest attempting to tear the sink out of the wall, Sadier certainly gives it hell, and it's a downright cathartic listen. (www.dragcity.com/artists/laetitia-sadier)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 7/10